In May, President Donald Trump cited a lack of public outreach as justification for the need to review national monument designations dating back to the Clinton administration. As a result, until mid-July, the Department of the Interior will be accepting public comments on 27 national monuments, most of them located in the West, including two in Nevada, six in California and four in Arizona.
The monuments under review were designated through the Antiquities Act, legislation that allows a president to use his or her executive powers to protect federal land. Trump’s executive order in late April directed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review Antiquities Act designations “where the secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.” During his presidency, President Barack Obama designated two national monuments in Nevada: Gold Butte and Basin and Range. The fate of both is uncertain.
“Part of being a good steward is being a good neighbor and listening to the American people who we represent,” Zinke said on May 5 in a Facebook post announcing the public comment period. “There is no pre-determined outcome on any monument that is being reviewed. I look forward to hearing from and engaging with local communities and stakeholders as this process continues.”
Some have argued that using public outreach to justify the monument review is disingenuous. They note that when it comes to many designations, such as Gold Butte, there were plenty of meetings with the public and groups that might be affected by a designation. The move did not come out of nowhere, they argue. Prior to the Antiquities Act designation, U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and then-U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., had pushed legislation to create greater protections Gold Butte, which is near Mesquite.
Whether they have been involved in the process before or feel that their voices have been excluded, advocates and opponents of the monuments can now express their views in comments online. The deadline for submitting a public comment on two Nevada monuments is July 10 (there is an earlier May 26 deadline for commenting on the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah).
Here’s how to comment:
1. Go to the comment page.
2. Click “Comment Now”
3. Comment and submit.